Front page

Are you afraid of the dark?

(Click to invert colors, weenie.) (Requires JavaScript.)

All email will be assumed to be for publication unless otherwise requested.

What's in the banner?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Not Bananas for Pajamas

By now you've probably all heard about Pajamas Media, a new blogging...something...formed by Roger L. Simon, Charles Johnson, and Marc Danziger (now posting over at Winds of Change), with an assist from Glenn Reynolds and a cast, apparently, of thousands.

It is said of the Palestinians that they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, and that may as well be my motto, too. I'd have it carved on my tombstone, if I planned on having one. I first heard of the Web in the latter half of 1993, and learned to code HTML not too long afterwards. Of course, it was HTML 0.03, or something like that, and there were only about five commands, and Java was still in the future, but it was something not a whole lot of people knew how to do, even in Silicon Valley.

I told Niles that, gosh, I could quit my glamorous but unremunerative day job, and hack together web pages for businesses. But that, I thought, would be wrong, because I didn't really know what I was doing, and it wouldn't be right to charge people for my rudimentary self-taught coding skills.

Not everybody saw it quite the same way. Some of those people are stinking rich now.

That wasn't the first time that kind of thing happened to me, and it wasn't the last. I always end up deciding that my skills really aren't up to a professional standard, so that it would be akin to stealing to get paid for using them. (I'm speaking, of course, of my skills in areas in which I'm not a professional; although it turns out that people think this is also true of my skills in areas in which I am a professional, since I'm not being paid for using them, either.)

Of course, recent events have proven that lack of skills is no barrier to participation in a big media enterprise. Ha ha! I kid the folks in the mainstream media! Oh, wait: I don't.

Now, I might look at this a little differently if I could figure out just what the hell Pajamas Media was supposed to be. It involves some sort of advertising deal, which is fair enough, but there's also another aspect to it about which Roger is being very coy (I gather he's not really clear on the concept himself, which is not reassuring).

Fortunately, we now have an article in the New York Sun explaining the deal:

The idea of Pajamas Media is to use an extensive network of globally affiliated blogs to provide first-person, in-depth coverage of most major news events, including both camera and video footage, Roger Simon said.

Using as an example the tsunami that swept through parts of Asia and Africa in January, Mr. Simon said bloggers managed to post hundreds of updates, first-person accounts, and video clips, often before major press organizations could deploy their staffs.

That's all fine and dandy, but I don't really see being able to cover very many big news items from my post here in suburban Houston (I don't have a car). What would I say?:

News flash: The obnoxious neighbors at [address] have finally drawn the attention of law enforcement. Huzzah.

News flash: There's been a fender bender after Sunday services at [the large church across the street], despite the off-duty cops directing traffic. Decent church-goin' folks sure can come up with a lot of bad words when the occasion demands.

Of course, sometimes I do get out:

News flash: The service at [bagel purveyors] at [location] continues to suck.

Now, if I were still living in Sydney, I might be able to take the bus up to the CBD and cover protests and David Jones Christmas displays. (Bill Ardolino has done an excellent job covering protests in DC, though he puts in a lot more work than I would want to, and I think he's getting kind of tired of it too.)

Better still, at the job before that, I could've issued reports like this:

News flash: Rumors at [well-known government agency] say that [something mildly scandalous] has happened at [W-KGA] headquarters. This will no doubt depress the already-low levels of morale at [agency].

Of course, I would've had to post such a report exactly as it is above, with all the identification elided, if I wanted to keep my job.

I suppose I could still report on my work:

News flash: [Name withheld] is publishing a paper on [topic I don't know that much about, for all I am a co-author] which suggests that [something takes place that's actually kind of interesting, though it would bore the pants off you, but I could easily play it up to make it seem much more certain and important than it really is, just like large science organizations sometimes do, not naming no names].

Again, though, I'd pretty much have to release it in that form, or risk the Wrath of the Colleagues.

Therefore my usefulness as an on-the-scene media correspondent is somewhat limited -- that is to say, nonexistent -- and I don't believe I shall sign up with Roger and Co. (I'm sure this comes as a staggering disappointment to them), though I wish them well. I'll probably end up regretting it.

Back to that Sun article -- I did enjoy this quote from InstantMan:

"I think it is a tired cliche that because there won't be newspaper editors at PJM, that somehow the product will be diminished," Mr. Reynolds said. "We do not need four or five layers of editors to screw this up like they have at the L.A. Times.

At PJM, we can screw this up ourselves, and eliminate the middle man!

Speaking of screwing up, the Sun article notes some advertising difficulties:

There are caveats, however. The first is that blog advertising is unpopular with a large segment of traditional advertisers, such as Proctor & Gamble, who are uncomfortable with the potential of their products' being sold near potentially controversial copy.

I wonder how many layers of editors you need to screw up the company name: it's ProctEr & Gamble.